Yoshitoshi's 'A Modern "Journey to the West" (Tsūzoku saiyūki)' (1864-65)


This page attempts to catalog all known prints in Yoshitoshi's series 'Tsūzoku saiyūki (通俗 西遊記 - A Modern "Journey to the West")'. The 'Journey to the West' in one of the classic novels of Chinese literature; it is a unification of a number of supernatural myths and legends about the pilgrimage of famous Chinese Buddhist monk named Xuanzang to India (then known as the Western Regions), at the time of the Tang Dynasty, in order to collect a number of Buddhist religious texts.

The series dates from the start of Yoshitoshi's career, when he was about twenty-five. It thus dates from about two decades before his well-known masterpieces, such as his great series "One Hundred Aspects of the Moon" (1885-1892), and "New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts" (often called simply "Thirty-Six Ghosts") (1889-1892).

According to Keyes, the text in the cartouches is by Sumida Kurozato (Kokutō) Ryōko.

Main characters

The prints include small cartouches labelling the personae (the term 'persona' is used throughout, to avoid confusion with the term 'character', which is used to mean 'ideogram' throughout the site) shown in each print. Some of the main personae, whose names appear again and again, are listed here. Listed right after the monk are four companions and protectors of the monk, who acted as disciples, who were assigned to him to help him with his task. The names of other personae who appear in specific prints (usually one of the many demons whom the travellers have to content with) are given at that print.

Technical details

Previous cataloguings

The only known attempt to enumerate this series is in Keyes' thesis:
	Roger. S. Keyes, "Courage and Silence: A Study of the Life and
		Color Woodblock Prints of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi 1839-1892",
		Cinncinnati, 1982
where it appears as series #116.

Keyes listed 9 prints in the series; we have probably found an additional 12 prints, making 21 in total. (The uncertainty is because is a slight question about one of the prints that Keyes lists; if the one we have for that one is not the one we think it is, we will have found 13 additional prints.) We use the Keyes numbers for the first 9, and have numbered the rest in the order of their dates, as Keyes did for the first nine.

The prints in the series do not appear to have any titles, or have numbers on them, or otherwise be in any explicit order. Japanese museums which have prints on display from this series do not show titles for the prints, merely list the personae which are labelled in each image. The 'Journey to the West' has 100 chapters, but Yoshitoshi does not seem to have set out to produce one print per chapter. In particular, at least of one the images is from quite late in the story. Also, although the row of characters on the left hand roll of the scroll-shaped title cartouche appears to be something like a chapter name, for each 'chapter name', several prints bear the same string of characters.

This page (and list) is not necessarily complete; the series is not well documented, and there may be yet other prints which have not yet come to our attention. However, given that the Museum of Fine Arts collection contains two almost-complete sets of this series, covering the same 21 prints as we had already found, the probability that there are large numbers of prints still missing is essentially nil. There may still be a small number undiscovered, but that would be the limit.

If you know of any prints from this series which aren't listed here, or have either i) information about any errors on the page, ii) better images than the ones below, or iii) missing information about individual prints (e.g. publisher, exact date) please let us know.

The Prints

To see a larger, roughly full-screen, image of any print, please click on the thumbnail; these images are sized to produce reasonable detail (if we have an original that big), and are fairly compressed.

If we have a higher-quality image, that image can be viewed by clicking on the "Large Image" link, which gives the size of the image (for the benefit of those on slow links). Sometimes there is more than one, if our best-quality image has issues (e.g. trimmed margins).

Thumbnail Large image Number Date Names (Kanji) Names (Rōmaji) Description
569KB #1 1864/10 雷公 Fūkō The identity of Daitokusei is not certain; he may be the persona Taibai Jinxing. The other two seem to be some sort of demi-gods of thunder (Fūkō) and wind (Raikō).
風公 Raikō
大徳星 Daitokusei
477KBKB #2 1864/12 㝠王 Meiō This persona's name translates (roughly) to 'Dark King'; he may be King Yama.

Keyes describes the print to which he gave this number as "Monkey appears before the king of hell"; this print would appear to be the print he is referring to, except that the date on this one is clearly 1864/12, and he records the date of #2 as being 1864/11. Perhaps he simply made an error?
Or perhaps this print has been mis-identified, and his #2 is possibly #16, or one of the others? It is also, of course, possible that he was referring to a print which we do not yet have an image of.

559KB #3 1864/11 霊感王 Reikanō Reikanō is the King of Spiritual-Touch, a marine demon who is actually a gold-fish belonging to Guan-Yin, the Enlightened Immortal of compassion.
406KB #4 1864/12 The waterfall shown here is probably the one on Flower Fruit Mountain behind which is the Water Curtain Cave, found by Son Gokū, where he and the tribe of monkeys he was originally the leader of live.
522KB #5 1865/2 金角 大王 Kinkaku Daiō This print illustrates an episode from the start of Chapter 33, where Son Gokū fights with a demon in order to free Cho Hakkai, whom the demon has captured.

Kinkaku Daiō is the King of Gold Horn, an unruly servant of Laotzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher who is revered as a deity, "One of the Three Pure Ones", in Taoism.

446KB #6 1865/2
452KB #7 1865/2 獅駝洞 之 老魔 Shidadō no rōma The identity of the mythical being is uncertain; its name translates to something like 'Ancient Demon of the Hunchbacked Lion Cave'.
426KB #8 1865/2 眞悟空 Shingokū
假悟空 Kagokū
555KB #9 1865/2
497KB #10 1864/10 朝倉彫常 This print illustrates an episode from Chapter 2; Son Gokū battles a demon who has captured the cave where Son Gokū and his tribe of monkeys live.

It is not known who or what the first cartouche refers to. The second is the Demon King of Confusion.

混世魔王 Konseimaō
530KB #11 1864/10 独角 大王 Dokugaku daiō The first name translates to a character who is unidentified; his name translates to "King Single Horn", so he may be the character named 'One-horned Demon King', who appears in Chapter 5.

The second is Prince Nata (Prince Ne Zha in Chinese).

哪吒 太子 Nata taishi
399KB #12 1864/12 二郎 真君 Erlang shinkun This print illustrates an episode from Chapter 63; an old adversary of Son Gokū helps the travellers in a fight with a powerful demon.

Although the reading of the characters in these names not certain for all of them, the actual personae shown are definitely identified. The first, called True Lord in English, is the persona named Erlang Shang in Chinese. The other is the Nine-Headed Demon, who is the son-in-law of the Dragon King of Azure Lake.

九頭駙馬 Kuzufume?
446KB #13 1864/12 黄風王 Kōfūō This print illustrates an episode from Chapter 21, where Son Gokū fights with a wind demon in order to free Genjō-sanzō, whom the wind demon has captured.

This is the Demon of Yellow Wind (although his name in Chinese is written with slightly different characters than the ones used here, as do many of the figures in this series).

477KB #14 1864/12 羅利女 Rakijo? The warrior in this print is unidentified, and the reading of his name is uncertain.
455KB #15 1864/12 獨牛鬼王 Doku Gyūkiō The demon in this print is the Ox Demon King, who at one point had been Son Gokū's sworn brother. The leading Doku seems to mean something like "the only".

His name is normally always (including in Japanese) written with a different second character for 'demon', , and the name with that character is read Gyūmaō.

501KB #16 1864/12 精細鬼 Seisaiki The identity of these two demons is not known, but the readings for their names are correct.

The name of the second demon is normally always (including in Japanese) written with the characters 伶俐虫 (with the same reading).

伶利䖝 Reirichū
452KB #17 1865/2
550KB #18 1865/2 愛々 Ai-ai This print illustrates an episode from Chapter 23; the travellers are tested by goddesses masquerading as a mother and her three daughters.

The reading of the names is not entirely certain; in Chinese they are Ai-Ai, Lian-Lian and Zhen-Zhen.

The first syllable of Genjō's name seems to have been written with the non-standard character , and Cho Hakkai's with the character .

憐々 Ren-ren?
眞々 Shin-shin
427KB #19 1865/2
452KB #20 1865/8 金 聖 皇后 Kin hijiri kōgō Another mythical persona whose identity is uncertain; her name translates to something like 'Empress Gold Nun'.
551KB #21 No date seal? 聖嬰文王 Seiei Bunō The mythical being shown here is the Boy Sage King, who is also known by the nickname Red Boy; the two cartouches give his name and nickname.
The second cartouche starts with the characters 又 号 (mata gō), which mean, roughly, 'other sobriquet'.

There is almost certainly an error in the third character of the first cartouche, as his name is usually written with the character , not as here. This variant is seen nowhere else, except this print; the reading with the usual character is Seiei Taiō.

紅孩児 Kōgaiji


Thanks to (in alphabetical order) Andrew and Horst Graebner, who helped confirm the readings of some date seals.

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© Copyright 2010 by J. Noel Chiappa and Jason M. Levine

Last updated: 29/May/2010